Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

“Animal Kingdom”: People as mutants. There hasn't been a movie like this for a long time

  • In the near future, an epidemic of unexplained genetic mutations is sweeping through the human population. Thanks to them, some of its representatives are starting to look more and more like animals. However, these hybrids with superhuman skills are considered a threat and isolated in special centers. One of the people affected by such a mutation is Lena – François's wife. Upon learning of the convoy accident and the escape of the hybrids transported in it, the man sets out with his 16-year-old son to look for his partner.
  • They play the main roles in the film Romain Duris (“The Three Musketeers: d'Artagnan”, “Lost in Love”) i Adèle Exarchopoulos (“Life of Adela”, “Sybyl”).
  • Movie “Animal Kingdom” from June 14 in Polish cinemas. Watch the trailer!

I didn't know anything about this film, I hadn't heard anything about it when, at the end of June last year, I saw “Le règne animal” at one of the festivals. Surprise, but also confusion. Cailley, unknown to me before (“Animal Kingdom” is only his second film, but his debut, “Love at First Fight”, was shown in Cannes), in an extremely sophisticated formula of future cinema – I certainly wouldn't call it just science fiction – on It's a good story about fatherhood, parental entanglement, sacrifice and love. Call it whatever you want. And my favorite actor, Romain Duris, in one of the best roles in recent years.

In France, the film was a big deal – opening title of the prestigious “Un Certain Regard” section at the Cannes Film Festival, five Cesar Awards, one million viewers in cinemas, excellent reviews. After many months of waiting, as is unfortunately the case more and more often, it finally hits Polish screens.

“Animal Kingdom” is a story about animals, i.e. people. In the future, but not too distant, but too dangerous, people, probably due to global changes in the atmosphere and air pollution, turn into mutants, into anthropoid hybrids. The process is sudden, unexpected, arouses fear, stimulates anxiety, which in turn leads to aggression. We don't know anything yet, but we are already afraid and reacting with anger. Fear precedes other reactions. The creatures are therefore considered hostile, dangerous creatures, monsters, murderers. Global violence gives rise to the worst ideas known to history.

To eliminate the problem, we must start with exclusion, with the ghetto. Therefore, something like ghettos are created, where hybrids would live isolated from the rest of the population, without access to families and friends. Close your eyes and not see, that's a sick solution. We've been through this more than once.

These types of concepts, as we know well from history, never quite work out. A convoy with “mutants” crashes in the forest; human- or animal-like hybrids, according to local residents, pose a real threat.

The chase begins: for the fugitives, but also for maintaining the status quo. Dramaturgically, what is most interesting in the film is that Cailley (he wrote the script together with Pauline Munier) enriches this structure with the story of François (Duris) and his sixteen-year-old son, Emile (the great Paul Kircher). Soon the relationship between these two will be the heart of the story. Father for son, son for father, family looking for mother who disappeared as a result of a disaster.

In “Animal Kingdom” Julia, played by Adèle Exarchopoulos, also plays an important role – a catalyst for tensions between the two characters.

Cailley emphasizes in interviews that his film was a child of the pandemic. In the first period, especially, it seemed that the world would change irrevocably, and confinement, even confinement treated metaphorically, would, over time, become the natural state of people.

In such circumstances, the outline of the script for “Animal Kingdom” was created and, in my opinion, it is one of the most complete examples of reflecting the mental state of Europeans and the rest of the world from several dozen months ago.

Escape from the collective, fear of the collective, and at the same time an attempt to save the bonds. The discovery that what really strengthens you is neither getting rich nor adrenaline, but the feeling that you are not completely lonely, abandoned and weak in a “closed” world. That it is necessary and worth fighting for your “kingdom”. For closeness.


“Animal Kingdom” (Le règne animal), dir. Thomas Cailley, distributor: Kino Świat, cinema premiere: June 14, 2024.